In Louisiana, if you suffer emotional distress due to the trauma of an accident, you can seek to recover compensation for that distress if it accompanies an injury. An experienced personal injury attorney from Morris Bart can properly value your claim to include compensation for emotional distress if there is medical documentation to back up the claim.
What Is Emotional Distress?
According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, emotional distress refers to the mental suffering that occurs as an emotional response to the memory of a particular event, occurrence, or condition. Some examples of emotional distress following an accident in which an individual was injured include:
- Fear over everyday tasks such as driving a car
- Uncontrollable crying about the injury, the pain associated with it, the disabilities acquired as a result, or specific recollections of the accident
- Insomnia resulting from fear or negative thoughts about the accident or the injuries that were experienced
- Depression resulting from the changes that the injury caused in the life of the sufferer
- Humiliation over visible injuries or noticeable disabilities resulting from the injury
Examples of the Impacts that are Considered in an Emotional Distress
Being physically injured in an accident can create lifelong impacts on the sufferer. The following impacts, when coupled with the presence of a physical injury, can be claimed:
- Loss of the enjoyment of life due to the injury preventing you from partaking in activities you previously enjoyed
- Diminished quality of life as a result of chronic pain, physical disability, or the inability to earn an income or accomplish personal tasks independently
- The development of post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health conditions as a result of the injury
Most non-physical impacts of the injury that alter your life and everyday activities can be considered emotional distress.
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Types of Personal Injury Claims that Can Include Emotional Distress
Emotional distress is compensable damage in all types of personal injury claims, including motor vehicle accident claims, slip-and-falls, other premises liability claims, product liability claims, and medical malpractice.
How Are Non-Economic Damages Calculated?
In the legal sense, “damages” is used to refer to the compensation received for harm. Non-economic damages involve compensation for the psychological impacts of the injury. Generally, these damages are calculated by determining the economic cost of your injury by considering:
- The severity of the injury
- The intensity of the medical interventions that were required to treat it
- The presence of permanent deficits resulting from the injury
Proving Emotional Distress
To prove that your injury caused you to experience emotional distress, your attorney will gather evidence such as witness testimony from family, friends, or mental health providers about the impacts you have suffered. Additionally, your testimony about suffering the symptoms of emotional distress such as anxiety, flashbacks, or the inability to sleep could help prove your case. The more severe your injuries are, the more likely it is that they will result in non-economic impacts such as emotional distress.
Emotional Distress in Wrongful Death Claims
Just as becoming injured in an accident can lead to emotional distress, losing a loved one as a result of an accident that was caused by another person’s carelessness or recklessness can also result in emotional distress. Family members who have lost a loved one in a Louisiana accident can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their loss through a wrongful death claim.
According to Louisiana Civil Code (CC) §2315, “every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.” This includes the same recovery of available damages through a wrongful death claim as the person would have had cause to claim if they had not died of their injury.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Protect Your Right to Seek Compensation for Emotional Distress
From start to finish, one of the important roles of an experienced personal injury lawyer is to protect the value of your claim, including your ability to seek compensation for emotional distress that you incurred as a result of your injury. They do this by:
- Valuing your claim to reflect the incurrence of emotional distress and to demonstrate the severity of the injuries you have suffered
- Gathering the evidence needed to show the impacts you have suffered as a result of being injured
- Refuting the insurance company’s attempts to discount emotional pain and suffering
- Providing guidance to help you understand the value of your claim and what constitutes fair compensation
- Presenting evidence of the severity of your injury and its impacts on your life in court
Many people are hesitant to hire a personal injury attorney because they fear they cannot afford one. However, it is extremely hard for a personal injury claimant to obtain compensation for emotional distress without the assistance of an attorney as these damages will be among the ones that the insurance adjuster will try their hardest to eliminate.
The contingent fee allows you to withhold payment for your legal team’s services until there is a positive outcome to your claim. This means that the question becomes less of whether you can afford an attorney and more a question of whether you can afford not to hire one.
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We Can Help You with Your Claim
The experienced legal team at Morris Bart has spent decades helping the injured throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injuries, including emotional distress. Let’s discuss your legal options. Contact us for a free case evaluation.
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